“The Tourists” is a collective project for those who cross Southern Europe and for those who reach out to or watch them go by. Devised and run by Depression Era, the project operates as a subversive tourism campaign.
Starting in 2015 in Athens as a collective research and open discussion platform, “the Tourists” evolved into a public space, poster and digital campaign in Spring 2017 (tag: “Make Yourselves at Home”); a publication; and a series of exhibitions. The image, text and video works of “the Tourists” were shown in the 2017 “Decline of Heroes” exhibition at Basel's Antikenmuseum in dialogue with ancient works of art from the Mediterranean and as street posters. In 2018 the project was installed as pieces of a house or tourist pavilion at the Unseen Festival in Amesterdam.
“The Tourists” respond to History-in-the-making: the wave of refugee and mass migrations from Asia and Africa to Europe and the simultaneous increase of global tourism in the Mediterranean. These are parallel, converging global events producing states of emergency, distress investment, collateral conflicts and cultural patronage, at the same place, at the same time. The Tourist lives in a divided, burned-out, hyper-mediated public sphere. Her identity and citizenship are in flux; she is lost in transit, perpetually anxious, alienated, resigned or resisting; he is a simulator of social involvement, impotent to frame History in anything more than a postcard, slogan or tweet.
Among the narratives of power, encounter, arrival and departure featured in Global Media and contemporary art, the images and slogans of “the Tourists” expose seemingly idyllic landscapes containing the debris of unspeakable violence; frame portraits of women and men in alien places, strangers in their land, visitors among ruins, stateless, networked, indolent and conflicted; and document a generation of fearless children. It is not clear whether these belong to tourism ads or disaster news streams.
The House / Pavillion
These are the remains of a house. They have been reconstructed into a tourist pavilion. Every piece of this pavilion–house is for sale.
A number of stories appear on each piece, like the multiple objects in a house and the memories within its remains.
These stories make up “The Tourists”: a campaign about those who cross through Southern Europe and those who reach out to or watch them go by.
“The Tourists” broadcast states of emergency, politics, sea and sun; heroes and clowns; art and history; tweets and spolia; tourisms of war.
What is a Western “Grand Tour” today? What is the mirror of this journey in the opposite direction?
A Tourist is a simulator of activism, or a person whose identity and citizenship may be in flux; someone perpetually anxious, alienated, impotent to frame History in anything more than a postcard, slogan, or tweet. A Tourist is a stranger in her own house, a settler in a strange land.
“The Tourists” have previously appeared in posters on the streets of Athens; in conversation with ancient artworks in Basel’s Antikenmuseum; and online.
In the Athenian Crisis Supermarket everything is a Trailer. There are many unique offers, fires and fire sales, auctions, free samples, old images and hidden messages. Food and rent are cheap. The state of emergency has become the rule.
Stuck between the 21st and the 20th Centuries, we look forward to a future that is already behind us. We go through the motions of a normal life while the world around us unravels, taking kids to music lessons, boarding flights, tilting the balance of our credit cards, drinking free drinks in exchange of free labor.
We are young, old, or very tired.
Most of us have left the building.
Petros Babasikas, September 2018
Works, Selected 1
Afghan Refugee Sykamia Lesvos by Pavlos Fysakis | Untitled by Yorgos Prinos | Untitled by Dimitris Tsoublekas | Syntagma by Pasqua Vorgia
Prosaic by Yorgos Prinos | Untitled by Yorgos Prinos | Untitled by Yorgos Prinos
The Mermaid Madonna by Eirini Vourloumis
Untitled by Dimitris Tsoumplekas | Untitled by Dimitris Tsoumplekas | Lesvos by Pavlos Fysakis | Untitled by Angela Svoronou | Markiza by Pasqua Vorgia | Untitled by Angela Svoronou
Untitled by Harry Kakoulidis | Untitled by Maria Mavropoulou | Untitled by Yiannis Hadjiaslanis | Untitled by Dimitris Rapakousis
Untitled by Marinos Tsagkarakis | Untitled by Vaggelis Tatsis | | Church, Akadimia Platonos by Yiannis Hadjiaslanis | Untitled by Yiannis Hadjiaslanis | Untitled by Yiannis Hadjiaslanis
Untitled by Pavlos Fysakis | Untitled by Giorgos Moutafis | Untitled by Vaggelis Tatsis | Untitled by Maria Mavropoulou | Untitled by Dimitris Tsoublekas | Untitled by Yannis Theodoropoulos
Works, Selected 2
Solitaire by Angela Svoronou | The Promised Land by Maria Mavropoulou | Empirical Data video still by Giorgos Drivas
Untitled by Dimitris Rapakousis | Greek Tourists in Yemen by Yiannis Theodoropoulos
Tourist by Spyros Staveris | Antinoos by Chrissoula Voulgari
Aristos by Pavlos Fysakis | Office by Georges Salameh
Untitled by Giorgos Moutafis
Untitled by Eirini Vourloumis
British Museum by Dimitris Tsoumplekas | Untitled by Giorgos Moutafis
Agia Marina II by Yiannis Hadjiaslanis (courtesy Kalfayan Galleries) | Untitled by Kostas Kapsianis
G8 by Yorgos Prinos | Sacred Wind over Schloss Neuschwanstein by Yiannis Theodoropoulos
Paradise Inn by Marinos Tsagkarakis | Eden by Pasqua Vorgia
“The Tourists” began in 2015 as a collective effort by the group Depression Era to respond to History-in-the-making: the wave of refugee and mass migrations from Asia and Africa to Europe – their human, social and political states of emergency – and the simultaneous increase of global tourism in the Mediterranean – its investments, distress development, collateral conflicts and cultural patronage. In the seventh year of a social, financial and political crisis, we felt that these two converging, opposite global currents were shifting our place in the world, our identity as citizens and our focus as artists. We wanted to restructure our agenda, through collective and political action, making new images and texts beyond the social and urban landscape of the Greek Crisis.
At the time we were engaged in a debate about art and activism, partly initiated by the 5th Athens Biennale but also ongoing within our group since 2011. We joined long discussions and witnessed serial misunderstandings among activists who had no time for cultural exchange and artists who did but ended up reinventing the wheel. The conversations became polarized, echoing contemporary public discourse. One could either be for or against, purist or vandal, critic or doer. The term “Tourist” came up, signifying a simulator of social involvement, but also pointing to a feeling of anxiety, alienation and impotence to frame History in anything more than a postcard, slogan or tweet. In the Athenian Crisis Supermarket, every broadcast was becoming a trailer. Stuck between the 21st and 20th Centuries, we were looking forward to a future that was already behind us.
Athens, June 2017
Published in "Culturescapes Greece, Archeology of the Future"
Make Yourselves at Home is a Campaign for those who cross Greece and those who reach out to or watch them. We broadcast Emergency, Politics & Sun; Heroes & Fools; Art & History; Tourism & War. In the Athenian Crisis Supermarket, everything is a trailer.
Athens Biennale 5to6 | Synapse 1-2 | curators: Massimo Molina, Xenia Kalpaktsoglou, Poka-Yo | Baggeion Hotel Athens GR | Nov 2015 | Link
Culturescapes Festival | "The Decline of Heroes" Exhibition | curator: Kateryna Botanova | Antikenmuseum Basel CH | Oct 2017 - Jan 2018 | Link
Unseen Amsterdam 2018 | CO-OP | curator: Lars Willumeit | Westergasfabriek Amsterdam NE | Sep 2018 |